#Excerpt “In the Best Interest of the Child” by Felicia Denise


Best Interest front cover


She was still two steps away from the large, ornate, mahogany door when it opened. Olivia slowed her steps, curious to see who already knew of her arrival.

Olivia’s eyes were focused on the area of the doorway where someone of average height might appear. She was almost in the doorway when she realized someone was standing in front of her.

The description of Marie Averest given to Olivia came to mind as she glanced down.

Impeccably dressed with flawless makeup and hair, Olivia felt like a giant standing before the woman. She stood nearly a foot taller than the diminutive senior citizen. Her height was not so much the surprise as was her weight. Marie Averest didn’t appear to weigh more than one hundred pounds. Still, while her appearance said affluence, her eyes told Olivia two things. First, while Duncan felt he and Rena shared the same grin, and she resembled Irene in every other way, it was Rena’s eyes staring back at Olivia from her grandmother’s face.

The second thing Olivia noticed was Marie had suffered. Trauma, depression, or grief, Olivia didn’t know. But she had seen that look too many times before in the faces of her young clients… and in her own mirror, not to recognize it.

As the passing seconds made the silence awkward, it was Olivia who spoke first. “Mrs. Averest?”

Marie nodded slightly.

“You have to be Ms. Chandler. Welcome to my home. Please, come in.”

Hearing the older woman’s voice, Olivia knew immediately what she saw in her eyes.

Fear.

Without her timid demeanor, Olivia would describe Marie as soft-spoken. But the shaky, near-whisper voice hinted that Marie was afraid of something…or someone.

Olivia stepped inside past Marie, looking around the foyer.

The top half of the hallway walls were covered in linen wallpaper which appeared to be an antique white.

A narrow entry table and two small Quaker-inspired chairs were the only items in the foyer, but all were made of a dark wood Olivia didn’t recognize and polished to a high gloss. The style said English and old, and perfectly matched the half-wall paneling.

Olivia frowned.

Paneling? Now there’s something you don’t see much of anymore.

Despite the light-colored wallpaper, the dark wood elements simply overwhelmed the entrance and gave it an eerie feel. Olivia felt any horror or paranormal movie could be filmed right where she was standing.

These people have a thing for darkness.

It also wasn’t lost on Olivia that even though the small area would never be part of a magazine layout of design tips, it was expensive… very expensive. Duncan’s comment came to mind.

“My father is not super wealthy, but he likes for people to believe he is.”

Moving the Brigg attaché from one hand to the other, Olivia was ready for Charles Averest. Still waiting for direction from Marie, Olivia found she was still standing near the front door.

Olivia smiled, but the tiny woman simply pointed past Olivia down a hallway. Glancing in the same direction, Olivia saw there was a door ajar at the end of the hallway. Turning back to thank Marie, Olivia only saw her back… as she scurried away through another door off the foyer.

Olivia frowned.

What is going on in this house?

Realizing it wasn’t her problem…and she really didn’t care, Olivia headed towards the open door. Just as she reached the doorway, the door was quickly pulled all the way open by Charles Averest. Olivia skillfully hid her surprise for as tiny and petite as Marie Averest was, her husband was the exact opposite. Well over six feet tall, he still looked pretty good for a man in his seventies. Broad shouldered and muscle-toned, Olivia might have called him handsome. With his thin, snow white hair and equally white, closely trimmed beard and sideburns, he could have passed for Colonel Sanders’ brother…if not for the ridiculous, honey blond toupee perched on top of his head.

“You must be Mr. Averest.” He glared down at her, not even trying to hide his contempt.

“I am not happy about this meeting or having you in my home, young lady! I’m only allowing this because you threatened me!”

Returning his glare, Olivia had to will away the sneer twitching in her top lip.

“I do not threaten people, Mr. Averest. I gave you options. This meeting could just have easily been held in my office or a judge’s chamber. YOU chose your home.”

Not even waiting for an invitation into the room, Olivia walked past Charles. “And my name is Olivia Chandler. You can call me Ms. Chandler.” When Olivia planned this meeting, she knew she would have to control her temper, but wasn’t prepared for it to flare so soon after her arrival.

The room appeared to be Charles Averest’s office… and another decorating nightmare.

Placing her attaché on a table near the center of the room, Olivia didn’t miss the movement to her far left, and casually said, “Hello, John. How are you?”

When she turned towards him, she caught the stunned expression on his face before he schooled his features.

“I’m good, Olivia. But forgive me if I’m a bit confused as to why you’re here. Don’t you have enough to do in kiddie-court?”

Olivia’s smile morphed into a smirk.

“I was wondering the same about you, John? I mean, why are you here? I thought martini lunches lasted until 3.”

She turned back to the attaché before he could answer and flipped the latches, but paused and gave him a side glance. “But then, I am an attorney, right? Even though my arena is… what did you call it? Kiddie-court? And you wouldn’t want me talking to your client without legal representation, would you, John?”

“Now see here, Ms. Chandler! Exactly what is this all about?”

Charles Averest walked towards her, trying to loom over Olivia and use his height to intimidate her. It had no effect. John Campbell Brock rushed to his client’s side.

John Campbell Brock rushed to his client’s side.

“Calm down, Charles. I’m sure Ms. Chandler won’t take up too much of your time, will you- “

“When did you learn of the car accident your son and his family were involved in, Mr. Averest?”

Olivia cut John off without so much as a glance.

“What does that-“

Olivia didn’t miss a beat.

“When did you learn of it? How did you find out?”

John exhaled loudly.

“I really must ask you to tell us what this is about or leave, Olivia. Mr. Averest is a prominent man in the community and my friends down at the courthouse will not be pleased with your treatment of him.”

Olivia folded her arms across her chest.

“My treatment of him?”

She looked at Charles. “My treatment of you? Am I mistreating you, Mr. Averest? I feel I’ve been rather pleasant. And I’ve definitely treated you far better than you have your own granddaughter.” She relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

“My treatment of you? Am I mistreating you, Mr. Averest? I feel I’ve been rather pleasant. And I’ve definitely treated you far better than you have your own granddaughter.” She relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

Olivia relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

“Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

Charles and John exchanged nervous glances before moving to chairs near the table.

She locked her eyes on Charles Averest.

“You received word of the car accident soon after it happened. Probably from someone who heard Duncan’s last name. Unfortunately, because of his injuries, Duncan was the last living victim to be removed from the scene. You arrived shortly after the medi-copter carrying your son. While he was being prepped for surgery, you learned your daughter-in-law was killed in the accident.”

Charles huffed at the term she used for Irene.

Arms still folded, Olivia walked over to Charles and stood in front of him, leaning her hip against the table.

“See? That right there? That sound you just made? That’s the crux of the problem, Mr. Averest… your indifference – your lack of compassion or concern for the two most important people in your son’s life.”

John leaped to his feet.

“Olivia! You’ve gone too far!”

She replied without taking her eyes off Rena’s grandfather.

“Sit down, John.”

The arrogant attorney bristled.

“Who the hell- “

Olivia’s calm voice didn’t match the flash of anger in her eyes.

“Watch yourself, Brock. You’re going to need a friend… soon.”


Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

Goodreads  http://bit.ly/BestIntGR

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